A Note from Mr Bray - 3 November 2017
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:41 (NIV)
A highlight of Week 4 for me has been the opportunity to travel on two separate occasions by train to Sydney to participate in stimulating programs involving our students. Monday morning saw my alarm ringing at an exceptionally early hour of the morning as I prepared to join with Mrs Meek and 5 of next year’s school prefects as we made our way to attend the National Young Leaders Day. This event was held at the International Convention Centre located at Darling Harbour. Here we joined with some 1,600 other young leaders drawn from schools throughout New South Wales. The program featured 4 excellent speakers who were able to talk with great authority on the topic of ‘leadership’. Their leadership journeys covered an amazing diversity of areas and experiences. Speakers included Gladys Berejiklian, MP, the current Premier of NSW; John Coutis, who has no legs and has overcome a childhood of relentless bullying to now have an international career as a motivational speaker; Adam Goodes, recently retired indigenous AFL Swans player and winner of the prestigious Brownlow medal and Andrew Scippione, who retired earlier this year as the NSW Police Commissioner.
As previously mentioned, it had been a very early start, which saw us boarding a train at Bomaderry Station at 5.10am. However, all 5 students agreed that the day had been of great value. Each speaker had very honestly shared their leadership journeys and were only too willing to provide the eager audience with helpful advice relating to how they had set out to overcome the challenges that they had faced along the way as inevitable components of their leadership roles. Our prefects were busily writing notes throughout the day as they were provided with invaluable leadership tips and suggestions.
My second trip to Sydney occurred on Wednesday when I had the pleasure of joining with 20 students from the Year 10 History class as we travelled to the Sydney Jewish Museum. This museum has been specifically established to highlight the plight of the Jewish people as they experienced the atrocities that were part of the holocaust inflicted on them by the Nazis regime during World War Two. Our students were addressed by a Jewish staff member who provided an informative general overview of what the holocaust entailed. We were then introduced to ‘Muriel’, who was just a tiny infant when her immediate family were fortunate enough to escape from the Nazis authorities. However, sadly, many members of her extended family perished in extermination and concentration camps. Muriel was an inspiring speaker and our students were greatly impressed by her ability to forgive and not to be overcome by bitterness as a result of the horrific events of the past. Muriel also willingly answered many of the thoughtful questions asked of her by our appreciative students. We then had the opportunity to tour the museum exhibits as we were divided into groups and allocated an experienced guide. Many of the topics covered were both challenging and confronting and I have no doubt that our students have benefited greatly as a result of participating in this excursion.
I would wish to publicly acknowledge the excellent organisational skills demonstrated by Mrs Meek and Mrs Heatherington who were the staff members responsible for planning these two significant educational excursions.
On Wednesday, I had the honour of being one of the members of the judging panel at our inaugural Years 7-10 Public Speaking Competition. Mrs Bignell, NCS Librarian and Mr Windsor, former long serving NCS Principal, were the other two panel members. Our role was to assess the public speaking performances of 11 students drawn from the 4 different year levels. Each speaker presented on two occasions. The first involved a prepared speech and this was followed by an impromptu speech. Both of these tasks are very demanding and all students are to be commended on their fine performances. Mr Windsor spoke on behalf of the judges and he provided some excellent advice about the art of public speaking. He also announced the winners in the various categories. I would wish to commend all students in Years 7-10 who comprised the audience for this event. Their behavior was impeccable as they provided warm encouragement for each speaker. We were also delighted that a number of parents and other family members were able to join our audience on this occasion and also to share in a delicious morning tea. A special ‘thankyou’ goes to Mrs Thompson who was the primary organiser of this event. READ MORE about this event.
Friday saw the week conclude with the holding of two very important events. One of these was the Primary School ‘Stress Less Day’. This program involved all of our Primary students. The aim of the day was to help students understand what stress is and how to manage it. Each Stage group met with Mrs Thuaux, our NCS Primary chaplain, where she read a book to them and discussed age-appropriate strategies to deal with stress. Following these discussions, all students completed a range of relevant activities back in their classrooms.
The second significant event was the Year 10 Celebration Assembly. Our Years 7-10 students comprised the audience for this event and they who were joined by many parents and family friends, all gathered together to celebrate the achievements of our Year 10 students. Academic and commendation awards were presented to numerous deserving recipients. It was a most fitting conclusion to the Year 10 ‘journey’ for this group of students.
During my devotional reading this week, I encountered a well-known passage from Mark 4: 35-41. This is the passage where Jesus was asleep in the boat when a fierce storm blew up and his disciples were terrified that they would all drown. They woke Jesus up stating ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ (v.38). It was at this point that Jesus commanded the wind and the waves to be still and everything became completely calm. This event then led to the words of my focus verse for this week which states, ‘They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’ (Mark 4: 41)
I was reminded that our NCS devotional theme for 2017 has been ‘Who is this King?’ where students have been given the opportunity to explore the true nature and the amazing power and authority of Jesus. I have been greatly encouraged that NCS is a school community where all of our programs at all levels have been deliberately designed to allow our students to ‘meet’ and better understand this Jesus. The activities that I have referred to in this article that have occurred throughout Week 4 have also assisted in this process of discovery.